Fifty percent of our team at Cloudwater are women, working across all departments of the business, so celebrating progress, highlighting inspiring women, and calling for change is vitally important to us.
My journey into brewing was via a less conventional route. I was travelling around New Zealand and covered a few bar shifts in a brewery tap. I think I was instantly woo'd by the mesmeric shiny steel tanks and the multitude of valves and thingy ma bobs.
I was always a fan of drinking beer, and so when I was invited to do a brew day, I jumped at the opportunity. I was living in a real small town but luckily for me it was filled with breweries and the women leading them. My epic pal Jess Wolfgang of Rhyme & Reason Brewery, Wanaka NZ was so incredibly supportive and unknowingly nurturing of my career. She'd literally sit for hours discussing beer with me and downloading her brain into mine. Lee-Ann Scotti of Craftwork Brewery, Oamaru NZ was also a total inspiration. Both their dedication to their craft and their openness to continual evolution really captured my imagination. I stayed on at the brewery tap for a year or so, but with their encouragement, I found the guts to jump into brewing with two feet. After a couple of 2am interviews a spot came up back in the UK.
I worked at Redwillow Brewery for nearly 4 years starting out washing casks and worked my way up to brewer. I then moved on to brew with Cloudwater.
I've actually recently returned from maternity leave which I was a little nervous about to start with. Growing humans really takes it out of you! So being in a supportive, feminist and family positive environment at work made my return much smoother. Flexible working patterns and a gradual and gentle return helped rebuild confidence in both my physical ability and also allowed the mental space to fully absorb a faster paced environment.
In my opinion I think we're already starting to see a lot more women developing in the industry. I think we need to take a bow to the trail blazing OGs that laid the path in this historically and predominantly male lead industry. They wore the brunt of the sexism, and spoke out creating a much fairer and more aware working environment. I'm not saying there is no room for improvement. We do live in a society which is still subconsciously but inherently stacked against women. Particularly those with children.
I’m pretty certain though, we will see greater numbers of women entering (and remaining) in our industry as the threat level continues to lower. Seeing increasing numbers of women happy at work with growing and prosperous careers is key. So is having women visibly taking on leading roles and ownership opportunities and seeing them succeed and feel positive about the future.
I feel like the future is bright in craft beer and I'm looking forward to seeing the next iteration of feminism evolve and shape the future of the drink’s industry.